Untitled by Anonymous

Josie Leavitt -- August 1st, 2011

When I  got an email with the above subject, I couldn’t help but laugh. The vagueness was not cleared up by reading the email. My Hachette rep, bless his heart, did his best to include more information by including a sell sheet with the email. Sadly, it didn’t help clear up the matter.

The email said, “The inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time.” Maybe I’m feeling a little too cynical, but that “figure” could be any one of at least 20 people I can think of. Some I care enough about to want to sell this behemoth in my store (only 10 books per carton), and others I wouldn’t want gracing the front door of my shop.

I can’t help but wonder how this no-info allowed marketing campaign is going to do anything more than irritate.  It’s a little crazy to ask all the book buyers to hope this controversial figure will sell in their market. I mean really, how can you justify buying a book when you know absolutely nothing about it? Publisher hype aside, I just cannot do it, and I may get caught short come the release date.

Of course I’m curious. But this is the different from the Oprah books of the past. Those books had a solid sales history, regardless of the author. It was the brand that sold these, so I put up with ordering a book whose title and author I did not know. It is helpful to know that there will be a massive marketing campaign. But I can’t help but feel a little bullied into buying this book, and that feeling is not making me predisposed to ordering a carton of what may be an ENORMOUS BOOK.

I can’t imagine trying to ask a customer in the store to pre-order this book. “Well, I have no idea what this is about and I have no idea who wrote it, but I think you should special order it. I hear it’s going to be a huge deal.” I can’t think of anyone who would buy the book based on that.

If you want to build hype on a book, let booksellers read it ahead of time, let us get excited about the author team and subject matter, and make us want to get this book in the hands of all of our customers. But telling me nothing about the book is just plain silly.


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